The proposed sale of the Vikings to Reggie Fowler for $625 million will not be voted on at next week's NFL meetings, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed Wednesday in a conference call.
"There will be a brief report on the status of the pending sale of the Vikings, but no vote at this meeting," Aiello said. "The process is continuing to move forward to a decision at the May 24-25 meeting in Washington (D.C.), so it would be at that point that the finance committee would be expected to come in with a recommendation."
Fowler, the Arizona businessman who signed a purchase agreement to buy the Vikings along with East Coast partners, is not expected to be in attendance at the meeting, Aiello said. Fowler would be the general partner if his purchase is approved during the May meetings.
Fowler's financing was under review by the NFL finance committee late last week, but the committee wasn't able to come to a recommendation, partly because the sale of 25 percent of Fowler's aviation business, which would reportedly be worth up to $300 million, hadn't taken place yet. Fowler would need at least $150 million in cash to purchase his 30 percent share of the Vikings, which is required to be the general partner under NFL guidelines.
The Vikings were also part of the NFL conference call because of two published reports that quoted Vikings head coach Mike Tice as admitting that he sold his allotment of Super Bowl tickets in January for more than face value. Players and coaches who purchase Super Bowl tickets from the NFL are required to sign a waiver stating they will not scalp the tickets.
Tice has been under investigation by the NFL since early last week.
Aiello was asked if the distribution and scalping of Super Bowl tickets among coaches and players would be discussed in Hawaii.
"It's not expected to be discussed at this meeting. It's not on the agenda and there are no plans to bring it up," Aiello said. "We will continue to study the best ways to get tickets directly into the hands of the fans who attend the game. That's the goal. "It's an ongoing issue faced by any organization that has an event like the Super Bowl, where tickets are in high demand. It's an annual review, and it could be discussed at meetings later this year. We do have the luxury of some time here since there are no Super Bowl tickets available to be sold until late January."
PROPOSED RULES CHANGES
NFL teams and the competition committee made a few recommendations for topics to discuss at the meetings. Among them is a proposal that would change the penalty for pass interference from a spot foul to a 15-yard penalty if the interference occurred further downfield than 15 yards. The enforcement, however, could change to a spot foul if the interference was deemed flagrant by the officials.
The league will continue to emphasize illegal contact for a second straight season, despite a desire to see the number of penalties involving illegal contact decrease.
During the 2003 NFL season, illegal contact was called 79 times, according to NFL Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay. That increased to 191 illegal-contact penalties in 2004. Defensive holding penalties increased from 188 in 2003 to 201 in 2004, but pass interference was actually called fewer times — 238 times in 2003 and 202 times in 2004.
"The feeling was that as the year went on and people got more comfortable as to how it was going to be called (in 2004), they adjusted their play," McKay said. "Our hope is that this year that adjustment continues when we re-emphasize it. … I just hope that we're able to modify conduct so that the number of fouls comes down."
The competition committee is also expected to focus on issues of player safety, including more emphasis on penalizing low blocks and "peel-back" blocks, which are blocks originating behind a player that the player cannot see coming. The committee will also focus on protecting punters and kickers from vicious blocks when they aren't directly involved in a play during a runback.
The use of instant replay could also be modified on plays that result in fumbles. The league will consider a proposal that would allow a team to recover a fumble even after an official has ruled a player down by contact if instant replay shows that the ball carrier was not down by contact and that there was no break in action. If the defense recovers the fumble in that situation, it would not be allowed to advance the ball.
ALSO DISCUSSED …
VIKINGS ANNOUNCE PRESEASON SCHEDULE
The Vikings announced their preseason schedule Wednesday as well. They will open the preseason on the weekend of Aug. 11-15 with a home game against Kansas City. They will travel to take on the New York Jets on Aug. 19 for a 7 p.m. Central Time nationally televised game on CBS. The Vikings will host San Diego during the third weekend of games, Aug. 25-29, then travel to Seattle for the Sept. 1 or Sept. 2 preseason finale.